Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Democratic Party Litmus Test

Is this the week that I finally get a divorce from the Democratic Party? After last week's overreaction to the Massachusetts special election result and underreaction to the Supreme Court campaign finance coup d’├ętat, it's quite likely.

What will push me over the edge is a party with substantial congressional majorities giving up on health-care reform. As in reform in my lifetime. As in reform that while far less than perfect will substantially close the gap between Americans who are insured and those who are not.

If health-care reform ends up in the crapper, the Democrats will have no one but themselves to blame. They failed to sufficiently mobilize public support. They failed to maintain party discipline like the Republicans were able to do so effectively at the height of their hegemony and, in fact, have done on this very issue while in the minority. They acted like the threat of a filibuster was the bubonic plague.

Passing health-care reform is not merely a political act. It is a moral act. To shy away from that because you're afraid of losing your House or Senate seat is another kind of act -- an act of cowardice -- that will not merely sully the Obama agenda but stain the Democratic Party for all time.

Cartoon by Tom Toles/Universal Press Syndicate

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